Every stakeholder in Manipur must acknowledge the importance of right ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the state. The world knows that grooming young entrepreneurs is the best policy. Development of local industries, education, skilling, health and hygiene, and welfare measures to support the poor must be undertaken beyond the skewed vision of electoral politics. Cosmetic efforts to please the electorate and some self-styled social workers in a particular area cannot help the aspiring entrepreneurs who need credit support to expand their enterprises. Market research and potential for expansion of certain trade and craftsmanship should be the basis to render credit support to develop local productivity. The Manipur State Rural Livelihoods Mission has stated that training programmes in 17 fields of skilled labour have been initiated in the state for the unemployed youths. The issue is how many unemployed youths in the state are aware about such training programmes to avail the opportunity. Concerned departments can think of ways to reach out to potential candidates to impart training programmes. Recently, a total of 50 youths trained in the fields of apparel and hospitality left the state to join KITEX in Kerala. Training programme organised under the ‘Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDUGKY) scheme became dreams come true for those youths who wanted to get employment and have better livelihood. However, imparting training to our youths for job opportunities elsewhere does not go well with the spirit of ‘Make in Manipur’. ‘Make in Manipur’ and poverty alleviation efforts in the state must go hand in hand. In a brief interaction with Prof. Wang Chunguang, Institute of Sociology. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), he underscores the importance of stopping children inheriting poverty from their parents. Based on China’s poverty alleviation measures, he emphasised education, agriculture advancement, skill development, social security coverage, basic infrastructures and development of Township and Village Enterprises (TVEs) to fight against poverty. Besides promoting education and imparting skills, Manipur should explore potential for development of privatelyowned TVEs covering local industries. In fact, targeted poverty alleviation drive can be based on farming, tourism, handloom clusters and handicraft production. Development of orchards, floriculture, fishery, and plantation of profitable crops could support poverty alleviation. Again, breweries producing variants of local rice beer is an untapped source of income. The Japanese can organise ‘Sake Night’ (‘Sake’ is Japanese rice wine) while we are debating about alcohol consumption without addressing the issue of adulteration. Drinking alcohol is widespread in the state and the best way is to promote healthy drinking culture (yuthak chumba). May be in future ‘Yu Night’ will become a popular festival in the state. Marketing the vegetables, flowers and fruits produced in the state is another example. The stores can source the farm produce from every household with a plot of land. Thus the seasonal vegetables from the kitchen garden and bigger farm land can be marketed through proper stores. The excess produced in the state can be exported elsewhere. Here comes the importance of logistics and its cost. This change in our approach can create a generation of enterprises who own shops and those who generate extra income through small scale farming. But it requires a community spirit to engage in work culture, healthy living and eating habits of locally grown vegetables, fruits and other agro-products. In addition to income generation, productivity of the land can be enhanced through household cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers in demand. Part of the logistics issues is the poor state of intervillage and inter-district roads. The government can boost poverty alleviation efforts around Sangaithel Park, Kakching Garden, Langol Peak Garden, Andro Santhei Natural Park and Sadu Chiru Waterfalls by maintenance of roads leading to such tourist hotspots. Such positive and timely intervention by the concerned authorities can promote tourism and other economic activities in such places. Naturally, enterprising individuals are sure to create livelihood on their own in such attractive places. The government should consider developing tourist infrastructure in such areas to promote privatelyowned or communitybased tourism. The integration of public investment on tourism and hospitality sector with that of private efforts can do good things in the economically underdeveloped state. The initiative can help unemployed youths, women and persons with disabilities directly and also generate revenue. The basic infrastructure could be parking space, small food stalls, eco-friendly inns, and beautification works to enhance the attractiveness of the place. In the process, the society will find new dreams and aspirations. The state should work as facilitator and do its best to avoid becoming a barrier to entrepreneurship that contributes to socioeconomic advancement of the state.
William Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since beginning. He also looks after the website and application of Imphal Times. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue.